Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Papal Audience with Pope Francis I

Pope Francis I - June 2013

One of our main reasons for visiting Rome was to see the new Pope. There are several ways to see the Vicar of Christ at the Vatican. Two of these are during the Sunday Angelus at noon and the Wednesday general audience at 10:30 a.m. both on St. Peter’s Square. Of the two, the best close-up view of the Pope would be at the Wednesday audience as the Pope circles the square in his popemobile before the hour-long acknowledgements and homily. On Sundays, when he is in residence, he blesses the crowd in attendance from the balcony above the entrance to the Basilica (predecessors of Pope Francis I blessed the faithful from the papal apartment window).

It is necessary to get tickets for the Wednesday audience but not for the Sunday Angelus. These tickets are free and may be requested from the Pontifical North American College or from the Church of Santa Susanna in Rome. Tickets are picked up the day before the audience or on Tuesdays from the location indicated on their respective websites. It’s best to make reservations as early as possible as there are thousands of pilgrims going to Rome, especially during the summer months. Follow the instructions given on their websites carefully.  To get tickets for the Wednesday general audience check below: 
The Pontifical North American College: http://www.pnac.org/visitorsoffice/audiences/

St. Peter's Square Wednesday General Audience, June 2013

Arrive early at St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro) if you wish to get a seat. We were there at 9 a.m. for the 10:30 a.m. Wednesday audience and all the seats were taken by then. It was standing room only for latecomers. The standing room only crowd was at least three-person deep from the cleared corridors where the popemobile makes its way around the square. We had been to see Pope John Paul II in October several years ago and that was a more pleasant experience with milder temperatures and less people. We had comfortable seats and were able to see him at a very close range without struggling with the crowd.

I must say that Pope Francis I was very accommodating. He came out early (around 9:45 a.m.) so he could greet the audience as he made his way around the square. He stopped often to acknowledge the pilgrims, especially the children.

The Pope's message on June 12, 2013 called on the audience to reflect on the “People of God”. The Pope asked the audience to contemplate on five questions:
  1. What does “People of God” mean?
  2. How does one become a member of this people?
  3. What is the law of the People of God?
  4. What is this people’s mission?
  5. What is the destination of this People?
The essence of the message is this: the Church is a welcoming, forgiving and loving place that is open to all who wish to enter and the People of God must bring the message of God’s hope and salvation to the world through these wide open doors.

Read more about his message here:

Lastly, there are restrooms inside Bernini’s colonnade to the left of the square if you’re facing the Basilica. This colonnade is also a refuge from the heat of the sun.

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Images by Charie



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